A complete overhaul has been planned for Old Dubbo Gaol to boost the visitor experience.
A new concept design plan has been developed for the Gaol that will look at the exhibitions and the way they can be upgraded to tell the story of the heritage site in a new way.
Dubbo Regional Council’s manager visitor experience Jamie Angus said Dubbo was a big tourist town and he wanted to make sure the Gaol was the best offering possible. Some of the exhibitions had been on display for 20 years without having been changed, Mr Angus said.
“Some of our old animatronics are getting a bit old and dated and what was previously seen as quite exciting, I think technology has evolved quite a bit so those things don’t impress the visitors or particularly the kids,” he said.
“The big part of it is going through and looking at the themes and the story we want to tell from start to finish and make sure we’re delivering the right message.”
The $1.39 million project will look at everything from the entry into the Gaol to the gallows, which will be moved inside to prevent further wear and tear. It’ll all be evaluated to ensure it tells the best cultural story of the Gaol, Mr Angus said.
“It’s now an opportunity for both visitors to Dubbo and Dubbo residents to see what we have planned in the next few years and their input as to whether they agree we’re going down the right path,” Mr Angus said.
The community see the project plans at the Old Dubbo Gaol itself or on the Dubbo Regional Council website.
The Gaol has applied for a $600,000 NSW government grant to fund part of the project. The rest will come from council.
If the grant application is successful, Mr Angus said the refurbishment would begin straight away. It’ll be done in stages to allow the Gaol to remain open during that time.
By the end of 2019 there’ll be a completely new experience for people who visit the Gaol, Mr Angus said.
“We’re all very excited. We’ve got a pretty passionate, small team here at the Gaol who are truly in love with what they do and the site itself. We’re very proud of what we have been able to do and what we offer to the public currently – it’s a fantastic experience even now – but we want to look towards making it even better,” he said.
Dubbo mayor Ben Shields said the refurbishment would further cement the Gaol – which attracts 50,000 visitors per year – into the cultural fabric and tourism offering of the regions destination offerings.
The draft Old Dubbo Gaol Concept Design Plans will be on Public Exhibition from March 15 to March 28.